The student housing shortage has increased considerably in the last few years. As a result, many international students end up without a room or fall prey to unscrupulous landlords and frauds. The university’s current housing policy is no longer up to the task, says member of Real Estate Management (RES) Raphael Boegheim.
“Also,” he says, “as an international student, you will find it very hard to get a degree here if you don’t have a roof above your head. The Executive Board will have to make a decision with far-reaching implications on how to deal with the new housing situation.”
In association with all of EUR’s faculties, RES and IO has drawn up a new policy plan that it will submit to the Executive Board. “At present, the university does not provide housing as a core business but rather as a courtesy. We want housing to become a more important aspect of the university’s duties. Some of our fellow universities, such as Maastricht University, do now regard the provision of housing as one of the university’s core duties.”
Some three thousand international students come to the Erasmus University each year. Says Boegheim, “We are already seeking to expand our number of rooms by looking into a partnership with Xior and by entering into agreements with Housing Anywhere. In the year 2017-2018 we provided 870 international students with rooms. All the other students had to find themselves accommodation.”
However, Rotterdam’s housing market is no longer what it used to be. “Back in 2011, when the current housing policy was drawn up, the Rotterdam housing market had great absorption capacity,” says IO’s Jikke Verheij. “But the market has changed, and it is now much harder for students to find rooms on their own.”
The International Office has seen a great deal of improvement in the last year. “As far as we can tell, we have received fewer complaints this year than we did last year,” says Verheij. “In addition, by now [mid-November] we have provided help to all international students who came to see us because they were experiencing problems.”
‘Where is my dorm?’
Nevertheless, there were many students last September who were unable to find rooms and so had to stay at hostels. “In September, the number of students unable to find rooms always peaks. But that is, apart from the big number of students, sometimes because they were insufficiently prepared,” says Boegheim.
He thinks the blame is not on the communication of the IO. “We explicitly state on the website and through other channels that students must prepare and embark on their search for a room early. Unfortunately, we still get students who turn up with a suitcase on the day their lectures begin and ask, ‘Where is my dorm?’”